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relaxed agreement is backfiring


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Hi there

New to this landlord malarkey, and still learning through experience.

I moved out of my home and 2 tenants moved in to separate rooms under separate AST agreements. They rent a room in a shared house, though the rooms are not separate addresses and do not have locks on the doors.

The bills remained in my name because they both wanted to pay 1 lump amount rather than rent and separate bills. So each month the tenants paid their rent and bill money as 1 amount. The bill money was for Electricity, Gas and Water. Unfortunately the Water bill continued to arrive 6 monthly in arrears, but the amount the tenants had accumatively paid covered this.

After 1 year one of the tenants served notice and left (recently). 2 days later the water bill arrived, but it was a lot higher than predicted. The water board confirmed that it was not a leak - simply that consumption was higher in the last 6 months. I telephoned the tenant that had left to explain that the bill had come in and how much they owed.

(Meanwhile the ex-tenant is expecting their deposit to be returned.)

I suggested that as they need to give me money to cover the rest of their share of the water bill, that rather than swap money in the post, that I take the amount off the deposit and send them a cheque for the balance.

I realise that legally I can't use the deposit money to cover outstanding bills, but it sort of made sense in this situation.

Initially the ex-tenant was fine and agreed, but after speaking to the Citizens Advice Bureau and learning that I can't legally do that with the deposit, they have changed their mind.

They used the water, but I'm having to pay the excess? that can't be right.

Can anybody give me any advice on how to proceed?

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Hi Guys!

What does AST state ?

If T owes "bill" money as part of "monthly payment" (albeit a final amt to clear acc) i see no reason why it cannot be deducted from Deposit.

Is deposit in custodial or insured scheme?

You have protected it, right ?

The Rodent

Ok, well AST states the following standard text ...

3.2. to pay promptly to the authorities to whom they are due, Council Tax and outgoings (including water and sewerage charges, gas, electric, light and telephone (if any) relating to the property) including any which are imposed after the date of this Agreement ... etc...

That's all it says.

As for the deposit being protected, no it wasn't. I know that is really stupid and I tell you what, I won't make that mistake again. I've already joined the Deposit Protection Service since this issue came up.

I was foolish to start letting rooms without making sure I had dotted the Is and crossed the Ts.

I don't have a leg to stand on do I?

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Hi Sedgemoor,

Absolutely right - you don't have a leg to stand on - you broke the law by not protecting the deposit and the tenant could decide to take you to court and you are likely to be fined 3 x the unprotected deposit as punishment.

What would I do ........ write off the additional charge for the water ..... return the deposit in full .... don't break the law in the future !

Good luck,


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